The Dames In His Death.
Sydney: Horowitz, 1956.
(All Images Courtesy of State Library of Victoria.)
"But I’m just poor, dumb Brody! I can’t write. I’m not in the fiction racket. I’m a wageplug – a slave working for a newspaper. I don’t drive Jaguars or Studebakers, I drive a battered old Chev convertible. All I can do is keep on plugging and plugging, trying to solve crimes that aren’t solved, and at the same time keep out of trouble while I write the story..."
The introduction to the pulp fiction section notes that import restrictions on American books and magazines beginning in the 1940's resulted in a "window of opportunity for local publishers to meet a growing demand for American-style fiction." Sydney based Horowitz Publications, now a respectable publisher of glossy magazines and children's books, employed a veritable stable of sleaze slingers in the middle of the last century to churn out "books to order" for the pulp market. Their major competitor was Young's Merchandising Company, which sounds more like a factory than a publisher, because it was.
writing As Larry Kent.
Young's Merchandising Company, 1957.
Audrey Armitage and Muriel Watkins
writing as KT McCall.
The Lady's A Decoy.
Sydney:Horowitz Publications, 1957.
Two of the few fillies in Horowitz's hard boiled stable wrote about 20 novels in just two years under the pen name "K.T. McCall." Audrey Armitage (a professor at the New South Wales Institute of Technology) and her partner Muriel Watkins were described on Decoy's back cover as: "Blonde, beautiful, and with brains." Their Detective, Johnny Buchanan worked for New York City's Silver Star Insurance Company, and never carried a gun. But that didn't mean the books skimped on violence. Decoy begins with Johnny's discovery of a blonde bombshell's disembodied gam: "Anna Karpis had insured her beautiful legs with the Silver Star Insurance Company, and now she was missing...I knew she was dead - I had a leg to prove it."
W.H. "Bill" Williams Writing as Marc Brody.
Write Off The Redhead.
Sydney: Horowitz, 1956.
Between 1955 and 1960 journalist W.H. "Bill" Williams churned out about 80 titles featuring investigative crime reporter Marc Brody. Brody toured the U.S. smoking, drinking, escaping the clutches of double crossing dames, drinking, solving crimes, and drinking. ("Send the lieutenant up… And some liquor. Scotch, rye, bourbon and beer..." Marc Brody in Blackmail Was A Brunette, 1957.) Brody's cases revolved around the newspaper world, and focused on organized crime, police corruption, and the power of the press to put things right. The titles were often the most original parts of the books, for example: Her Column’s a Killer (1955), Dame on a Deadline (1955), The Lady’s Out of Circulation (1957), and Headlines for a Hussy (1957).
Easing of restrictions on book imports and the introduction of television spelled the end of Aussie Pulp's golden era around 1959. But thousands (literally) of these factory fiction titles had been pumped out by then. Meant to be cheap, formulaic, and disposable, these paperbacks are now both rare and highly collectible, especially in pristine condition.